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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Beware of These Common Cognitive Biases

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

If critical thinking was easy, everyone would do it.

Every day we are faced with cognitive challenges to effective thinking. From emotions to unchecked assumptions and ambiguous data, we constantly make decisions without applying the rigors of critical thinking. Cognitive biases are frequent barriers to rational thought and effective decision making, but we are rarely conscious of our own biases.

Here’s a great graphic from Business Insider (see just below) that shows 20 of the most popular cognitive biases in decision making. (more…)

10 Guidelines for Ethical Leadership

Monday, June 8th, 2015

If you have the responsibility of leading and influencing others, it’s important that you remain aware of the impact you have on them in the area of integrity and ethics. Employees who see ethical behavior modeled by their manager or supervisor are more likely to act in kind. Additionally, employees who rate their leader as “ethical” typically have greater job satisfaction and higher levels of commitment.Ethics 4 Everyone video

Here are 10 guidelines for ethical leadership, along with corresponding action steps to help you put the guidelines into practice: (more…)

Why Transparency Matters

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Alcon_group1Transparency in business – it’s become quite the buzzword. And like all buzzwords, it’s easy to think of it as just another fad. It’s also easy for an organization to pay lip service to the idea without ever following through. But transparency is important for everyone: employees, leaders, customers, and — for publicly-held companies — stockholders.

Here’s how it impacts each group.

1. Employees
When employees are clear about the “why” behind their assigned projects and tasks, they’re much more prepared to do what needs to be done – which could include them making suggestions for improvements that would otherwise never have been imagined, simply because there wasn’t enough information available.
Educate every employee about the importance and relevance of what they’re asked to do, and you’ll have a more motivated, thoughtful, and productive workforce. Keep them in the dark, and you’re inviting mistakes, lackadaisical performance, and disengagement.
(more…)

You’re Not the Enemy

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

bluecollar4Put people into a situation where they disagree, and pretty soon they’re squaring off at each other, each one digging in their heels and working hard to find reasons why they’re right and the other person is wrong.

We all do it. We do it in business meetings, in customer service situations, with colleagues, and even with the people we love most. It seems logical. After all, we want to win the argument. We want the other person to back down, to admit that we know best, to go along with what we want. Of course, that’s exactly what the other person wants as well. So there you are, each of you getting more and more frustrated and angry. In extreme cases, the conversation gets destructive and relationships fall apart.

And yet, there’s one simple concept that changes the whole scenario. What if neither of you was the enemy? What if, despite the fact that you’re disagreeing about something, you could come together as partners to find a way through, instead of battling it out?

It’s a radical shift that creates radical results. And you don’t even have to tell the other person what you’re doing. Just say to yourself, “This person is not the enemy,” and see how it changes how you feel and think, and what you say and do.

Recommended training resource: The barriers that go up between departments and individuals within an organization are destructive, and they can seem insurmountable. Of course, so too, did the Berlin Wall. In our program Tearing Down Walls, renowned management consultant, author, and speaker Dr. Stephen R. Covey uses the tearing down of the Berlin Wall as a powerful metaphor for the ways that people within organizations can break down the barriers between departments.

 

Unspoken Feedback

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Leadership TrainingEver wonder what your employees are thinking about you?

If so, you’re probably a better-than-average leader who takes the time to observe body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, so you can tell when someone’s frustrated, confused, or just plain upset about something that’s happened.

But even in the best of manager/employee relationships, you’re probably not going to get the type of  in-depth honest feedback that might help you make real changes. Even in organizations where 360-degree reviews are consistently used, feedback isn’t always timely – or completely honest.

So what’s a manager to do when s/he wants to improve?

It goes back to observation, and to caring about what your team thinks and feels.

It’s not hard to learn how people act when they’re upset, hurt, frustrated, or angry.

It’s not hard to notice when something you’ve done has triggered their reaction.

It can be hard to be honest enough with yourself to acknowledge the connection between your actions and their reactions, and to be vulnerable enough to explore how you might do things differently in the future. (more…)

6 Tell-Tale Symptoms of the Abilene Paradox

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Team Effectiveness TrainingIn our previous article we wrote about a humorous family “trip to Abilene” and the concept of the Abilene Paradox.  We also discussed
how the Paradox affects us in both our personal and work lives.   Today, we’ll explore six tell-tale symptoms of the Paradox.

Remember that professor Jerry Harvey described the Abilene Paradox as the inability to manage agreement rather than the inability to manage conflict.  This inability to manage agreement is the essential symptom that defines individuals and organizations caught in the web of the Abilene Paradox.

Consider this workplace scenario:

Sue, Tony, Jasmine and their manager, Chris, all have strong reservations about implementing a proposed procedural change.  Individually, each one is convinced the change will cause more problems than it will solve.  BUT, because the proposed change was suggested by a highly-paid consultant, and because no one else is voicing their concerns, each individual claims to support the plan (when they really don’t). The procedural change goes forward…seemingly with unanimous consent.  Later, when troubling operational issues surface, the  group members get annoyed with  one another and blame the consultant for giving bad advice. Eventually—despite a hefty investment in the flawed new procedure—the organization decides to go back to the old way of doing things.  Susan, Tony, Jasmine and Chris never discuss the matter again. (more…)

Not Just for Bedtime Any More

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Story Telling for Customer Service TrainingStory-telling is proving to be far more than just the latest training fad. As reported in the July/August  issue of Training Magazine, major companies in industries ranging from high tech and high finance to high touch – and everything in between – are turning to story-telling as a powerfully effective way to inform, engage, and educate at every level of the organization.

Companies such as Sprint, the Ritz-Carlton, Hewlett-Packard, and many others both on and off the Fortune 500 list are embracing story-telling for everything from leadership development to customer service training and employee recognition programs. In fact, it seems like there’s no educational or communication initiative that doesn’t respond well to a little (or a lot of) story-telling.

So how can you bring story-telling into your organization’s training efforts?

  1. Start with a clearly-defined project.

A project like new employee orientation would be good for several reasons. With onboarding, there are typically clear objectives, clear learning points, and you can easily determine how well new hires integrate into the organization.  Onboarding presents opportunities to tell the story of how the company got started, along with stories that reflect the values and culture of the organization. (Other test project options could include the rollout of a new technology, a new leadership-development program, or the announcement of a new policy.) (more…)

5 Tips for Employee Engagement and Retention

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Bob_computerWhen it comes to retaining and motivating your best, most highly-skilled workers, here are five important things to remember:

People want to work in a positive, supportive atmosphere.  Leaders set the tone by communicating well and being available to support problem solving.

People want to grow and be challenged.  Leaders can support employees’ attempts to keep learning and broadening their skills, and can mindfully assign challenging tasks.

People are motivated by different things, not just financial compensation.  Leaders can become more aware of what encourages each individual to achieve his or her best. (more…)

Cross-functional Teams: The Leader’s Role in Building Synergy

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Cross-functional Teams: The Leader’s Role in Building SynergyOrganizations won’t be successful with a cross-functional team approach if departments within the organization have been overly isolated or are mired in an “us versus them” mindset.

What can a leader do to build synergy in these types of dysfunctional cross-functional team situations?

1. Start by making first-hand observations. Walk around the organization and ask people how things are going; seek their input on the issue at hand. Visible leadership (when employees can SEE leaders walking around and talking to folks) builds morale and lets people know that someone cares about what they’re doing and thinking.
2. Build bridges between roles and job functions. Encourage everyone to look beyond their immediate surroundings and give them opportunities to form productive working relationships with people in other departments. A beyond-the-barriers mindset ensures useful information is shared and not kept in “silos”. (more…)


 

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